The great Aaron Jones was kind enough to act as an out of town correspondent for Cat Tracks for this weekend's Pump and Run Easter Tournament in Las Vegas. Cat Tracks caught up with the former NBA scout in the middle of a game featuring the Double Pump All-Stars and the ICAN All-Stars at 10:45 p.m., in what was the last game of the first day of competition.
Jones said that the first day is generally full of some pretty bad games and that (Saturday) will be when the real competition starts.
"There have been a lot of blowouts today," he said. "A few close ones but most of the better games will be (Saturday). There have been some really good individual performances today though.
"The Pump and Run team is pretty good. Ayinde Ubaka is a very good point guard, really good. Devon Evertsen played well today and then they have Trevor Ariza and Omar Wilkes, who also played pretty good. Nobody was spectacular but I only really saw half of the game."
With Arizona pretty much getting everyone back this next year, the focus on recruiting shifts to filling the voids that this year's seniors will leave after graduation in 2003. The Arizona coaching staff has said that the priority in the junior class is getting guys who can play the three-four and a five.
"We'll look at guys who are combination forwards," Arizona assistant coach Rodney Tention said. "Guys who can play the three or the four spot. Then we'll look at a (center) and maybe a point guard from the junior class."
Although Tention didn't say it (mostly because rules prohibit him from doing so), it was pretty obvious that if one point guard was going to be taken by Arizona from the current crop of juniors it would be Ubaka.
Turning back to the scout, Jones, he agreed with Tention about the high level of talent among the younger players at the camp.
"There are a lot of good younger kids here," Jones said. "Harvey Perry, Jr., Demarcus Nelson and then there's Darius Washington, who's just a freshman."
Nelson has already been targeted as one of Arizona's potential prospects from the sophomore point guard class. He and his teammate (and fellow sophomore point guard) Dwight O'Neal, both play for the EBO/EA Sports All Star team, as does Washington.
"That's a really good young team," Jones said.
Another team that impressed Jones other than the Wilkes, Evertsen, Ubaka Pump ‘n Run team and the EBO team was the Gary Payton Nike Select squad from Seattle. Both of the super prospect Stewart twins (Lodrick and Rodrick) are on the roster.
"The Pump ‘n Run team is very talented," Jones said. "But the Gary Payton Nike team is very good as well. I like the Double Pump team that I'm watching right now too. They have Leon Powe and (point guard) John Winston, so they've been impressive."
Coach Tention said that April camps like this one in Vegas are usually "too early" to determine much about potential target recruits and that the main things he and the Arizona coaching staff look at are things like how competitive a particular kid is and how they handle themselves.
"I like to see kids make their shots," he said. "But what is also important is noticing things like if they have good form even when they miss their shots. We'll look for someone we haven't seen much of throughout the year at a camp like this, someone who we didn't notice during the season because we had to work so much with our team since it was so young. Mostly we're just looking for guys to look at during the camps in July."
One of those players is Reno, Nevada elite junior center David Padgett, who is sitting this camp out because of a knee injury suffered during his school team's season. Padgett is known to be very high on Arizona's "want" list and July will be when guys like Padgett will be evaluated the most.
Padgett is also a member of the Pump ‘n Run team featuring Wilkes, Evertsen, Ubaka, Ariza and others.
More to come later tonight.